After buying the then-Devil Rays, team president Matt Silverman abolished parking fees around Tropicana Field. The Devil Rays free parking continued throughout 2007. In 2008, the parking policy changed again.
The Rays go green at” carpool to Tropicana Field!! All vehicles with four or more passengers get FREE parking at all home games in 2008. For vehicles with fewer than four passengers, parking will cost $10. The Rays will also offer parking in remote lots for $5.
Since 2008, the price of parking has only gone up, and the carpooling advantage has been limited.
According to the Rays webpage, here is the current parking policy:
The Rays continue to provide carpoolers access to free parking in team-controlled lots.* In 2014, vehicles with four or more passengers may park free for all Sunday games. For all other games, the first 100 cars with four or more people park for free up to an hour before game time, with other main lot Tropicana Field parking rates ranging from $15 to $30 per vehicle.
From free to $10 in 2008 to $15 to $30 today. To park in lots that are no different than they were in 2006 and 2007. And the carpooling benefit has gone from everyday to only on Sundays and the first 100 other days.
Yesterday, the Rays made another change to their parking policy. According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, the Rays have partnered with a third-party parking service called “Parking Panda”. The article states Parking Panda is an app-driven service where fans can scan the Parking Panda-affiliated lots for the cheapest spot, then purchase a spot via Parking Panda at any time.
Presently, the only Tropicana Field lots associated with Parking Panda is Lot 4 and the price to park there is $21.50. (See picture below for Lot 4 location.)
According to Parking Panda CEO Bryan Lozano, “Parking is a natural pain point in all cities and I believe our biggest value is that we make it painless for residents, fans, and visitors through our technology,” he said.
Given the Rays attendance, where to park isn’t the problem. What is the problem is that parking at Tropicana Field has continued to rise unabated since 2007. Locking in high rates around the stadium only gives license for surrounding third-party lots to increase their prices. Considering the cheapest Rays ticket is $15, parking doubles the cost of admission.
Will this cause more Rays fans to utilize the City of St. Pete’s free trolley service that runs from the downtown parking garages to Tropicana Field?
Meanwhile, parking at Clearwater’s Brighthouse Field is $2. Parking at both Dunedin’s Auto Exchange Stadium and Tampa’s Steinbrenner Field is free. And according to Yelp reviews, parking at Bradenton’s McKechnie Field is $5.